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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

An eminent New Zealand winemaker has voiced concerns about the volume of new wine New Zealand will be producing in the future. Grant Edmonds, chief winemaker at Sileni Estates in Hawke's Bay, was in London recently, showing his wines. Although new planting volumes are expected to double in the next few years, Edmonds said: Nobody in New Zealand is producing cheap wine, so who is going to buy this stuff? If we increase volume by more than double, what is going to be the price point? The prospect is making people very nervous.' Edmonds also thinks that the Gimblett Gravels marketing initiative is premature, as many - if not most - consumers are barely aware of Hawke's Bay yet. He said: I think they should be promoting Hawke's Bay before they start selling a sub-region. They do not even know yet which are the best grape varieties for the area.' Formerly with Villa Maria, Edmonds is a fan of Merlot. It works well in Hawke's Bay. It ripens two weeks ahead of Cabernet and is more consistent than Cabernet.' He is also critical of many New Zealand wine producers' pre-occupation with Pinot Noir. There is an ingrained belief in New Zealand that our Pinot Noir is going to be the best in the world,' he said. Sileni, which is being distributed by Louis Latour, is owned by international publisher Graham Avery, who wants to make the best wine he possibly can'. He approached Edmonds, and the result is the NZ$20 million 350-ton winery in Hawke's Bay. The 2000 vintage is from their first crop - previous wines were made from bought-in fruit. From the 100 hectares, most of which are already planted, Sileni is producing around 45% Bordeaux reds, 20% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay and 15% Semillon.